As we all know, hormones are chemical messengers released by the endocrine glands that are responsible for coordinating all body processes. In terms of bodybuilding, hormones can be either anabolic (muscle building) or catabolic (breaking down muscle tissue). The combined effect of anabolic hormones (testosterone, insulin and growth hormone) produced by your body is what causes muscles to grow.
Since your progress depends on the intricate play of anabolic hormones, keeping them peaked naturally is a top priority and we’ll show you three simple ways to maximize their effect.
1. Eat enough calories
If you’re in a calorie deficit for a prolonged period of time (while training regularly), your testosterone levels can drop up to 50%, resulting with a decreased metabolic rate and loss of muscle mass. So about fad diets and make sure to consume a minimum of 18 calories per pound of bodyweight on a daily basis.
2. Increase your fat consumption
Don’t turn away from dietary fat since fat plays a vital role in the production of anabolic hormones. Multiple studies show that a diet high in healthy fats will keep your testosterone levels raised and speed up fat loss.
All fats are important and the general rule is that 30% of your total daily calories should come from fat (10% saturated fat, 10% monounsaturated fat and 10% polyunsaturated fat). Also, make sure to consume a decent amount of omega-3 fatty acids from foods like fatty fish, nuts and red meat.
3. Limit your consumption of fiber
Years of research show that high fiber intake is related to lower testosterone levels, mainly because the fiber causes more testosterone to be excreted from the body. However, since fiber is needed for maintaining a healthy digestve system and it can promote greater fat loss, you should strive to consume a decent amount of it (no more than 35 grams) every day.
4. Feast on carbs
We can’t stress the importance of carbs in a bodybuilder’s diet enough. Besides being the primary source of energy for the body, carbs are directly linked to your testosterone levels. People on low-carb diets experience a significant drop in testosterone levels because the ketogenic diet increases the amount of ketone bodies which interfere with the production of testosterone.
Keep your testosterone levels high by eating 1-2 gram of carbs per pound of bodyweight on a daily basis. When trying to maximize fat loss, limit carb consumption to 0.5 grams per pound of bodyweight. This is the ultimate recipe for optimal results.
In addition, you can stimulate greater muscle growth by combining carbs and protein in your post-workout meal, which will raise your insulin levels and block muscle-damaging cortisol. Researchers from the University of Connecticut found that consuming fast-digested proteins and fast-digested carbs after a workout both increase the amount of protein taken up by the muscle cells and the number of testosterone receptors in muscle cells. For best gains, try a combination of 40 grams of whey protein and 60 grams of fast-digested carbs right after you finish your training.
5. Take the right supplements
Multiple studies show that besides maintaining bone health, calcium supplementation can help increase testosterone levels in athletes. Taking 500 milligrams of calcium twice a day during a meal is enough to optimize your gains.
Furhtermore, a combination of 1.500 milligrams of arginine and 1.500 milligrams of lysine before going to sleep will keep both growth hormone and testosterone levels elevated. Amino acid supplementation has been shown to maintain muscle strength during training and promote muscle growth by enhancing an anabolic environment.
There is more to muscle growth than the right set of exercises. If your diet is all wrong, your hormones will be out of the balance required for growth and your progress will be stalled no matter how hard you train. But if you adjust your diet to these simple guidelines to complement your gym efforts, your gains are guaranteed to go through the roof!